Documentary ‘Shadows of Liberty’ takes aim at corporate media monopoly

It may seem obvious to a great many people, but the vast majority of Americans and, indeed, the world’s inhabitants, are unaware of the extent of corporate ownership of media.

Media corporations have always been few in number but their reach has been great. As Aldous Huxley noted in a 1958 interview with Mike Wallace, he worried about the power of television. He saw it as a form of social control that was used to “distract everybody all the time.” Again, this was in 1958. Corporate media and politicians, often working in concert, have had 54 years to make television more efficient at controlling information and thought, and distracting the masses like a grand illusion.

This past weekend, Canadian director Jean-Philippe Tremblay screened his film “Shadows of Liberty” at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. The film is an examination of the disintegration of objective reporting as a result of corporate monopolization of the media.

Trembly looks into the how and the why of media consolidation and the resultant censorship of stories such as the Nike sweatshop scandal, the 1996 downing of TWA 800 and Iraq War coverage. How journalists are prevented from pursuing certain stories or censored in some cases. The film uses interviews, archival footage, reconstructions and other techniques to construct its message.

Appearing in the documentary are figures such as Dan Rather, Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, Danny Glover, Chris Hedges and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, amongst others.